Fed Chair Jerome Powell. Photo: Joshua Roberts/Getty Images

No one could have predicted that it would take two hours for a member of the Senate to prod Fed Chair Jerome Powell about the Fed's political independence — or that the U.S. deficit would be such a central point of yesterday's hearing.

Why it matters: Powell answered a handful of questions about the U.S. debt and then chimed in on the modern monetary theory debate — whether or not deficits matter for countries like the U.S. that print their own money.

"The idea that deficits don't matter for countries that can borrow in their own currency I think is just wrong ... U.S. debt is fairly high to the level of GDP — and much more importantly — it's growing faster than GDP, really significantly faster. We are going to have to spend less or raise more revenue."
— Powell, in response to Sen. David Purdue's question about MMT

The caveat: Powell called out "unsustainable" federal debt in his opening remarks. But in response to questions from senators, he emphasized that "decisions about spending and controlling spending and paying for it" are up to Congress, not the Fed.

What's next: Powell will face the House Financial Services Committee — the first Democratic-controlled body of Congress he's seen since becoming chairman — at 10 am ET.

Go deeper: Fed's Powell sees "conflicting signals" in economy

Go deeper

Updated 6 hours ago - Politics & Policy

Coronavirus dashboard

Illustration: Sarah Grillo/Axios

  1. Global: Total confirmed cases as of 10 p.m. EST: 32,135,220 — Total deaths: 981,660 — Total recoveries: 22,149,441Map.
  2. U.S.: Total confirmed cases as of 10 p.m EST: 6,975,980 — Total deaths: 202,738 — Total recoveries: 2,710,183 — Total tests: 98,481,026Map.
  3. Politics: House Democrats prepare new $2.4 trillion coronavirus relief package.
  4. Health: Cases are surging again in 22 states — New York will conduct its own review of coronavirus vaccine.
  5. Business: America is closing out its strongest quarter of economic growth.
  6. Technology: 2020 tech solutions may be sapping our resolve to beat the pandemic.
  7. Sports: Pac-12 will play this fall despite ongoing pandemic — Here's what college basketball will look like this season.
  8. Science: Global coronavirus vaccine initiative launches without U.S. or China — During COVID-19 shutdown, a common sparrow changed its song.
9 hours ago - Sports

Pac-12 will play football this fall, reversing course

A view of Levi's Stadium during the 2019 Pac-12 Championship football game. Photo: Alika Jenner/Getty Images

The Pac-12, which includes universities in Arizona, California, Colorado, Oregon, Utah and Washington state, will play football starting Nov. 6, reversing its earlier decision to postpone the season because of the coronavirus pandemic.

Why it matters: The conference's about-face follows a similar move by the Big Ten last week and comes as President Trump has publicly pressured sports to resume despite the ongoing pandemic. The Pac-12 will play a seven-game conference football season, according to ESPN.

Dave Lawler, author of World
10 hours ago - World

Global coronavirus vaccine initiative launches without U.S. or China

Data: Gavi, The Vaccine Alliance; Map: Naema Ahmed/Axios

A global initiative to ensure equitable distribution of coronavirus vaccines now includes most of the world — but not the U.S., China or Russia.

Why it matters: Assuming one or more vaccines ultimately gain approval, there will be a period of months or even years in which supply lags far behind global demand. The COVAX initiative is an attempt to ensure doses go where they're most needed, rather than simply to countries that can produce or buy them at scale.

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